By William M. Arkin
05/08/08 “Washington Post”
Those predicting war with Iran or some Bush-Cheney October surprise attack on Tehran are constantly looking for signs of military preparations: a B-52 bomber that mistakenly takes off from North Dakota with nuclear-armed cruise missiles; a second or third aircraft carrier entering the Persian Gulf; a B-1 crashing in Qatar.
Since the most likely path to war with Iran is not Marines storming the beach but a strike on nuclear facilities and “regime” targets, signs such as these can often just be mirages. The true strike is not necessarily going to come with any warning, and the U.S. military has developed an entire system called “global strike” to implement such a preemptive strike.
A secret mission conducted last August over Afghanistan caught my eye because it tells us everything we need to know about the ability of the U.S. military to conduct a bolt-out-of-the-blue attack in Iran. It also tells us how useless such a strike might be.
On Aug. 12, 2007, four F-16CJ fighters took off on an 11-hour mission from Iraq to Eastern Afghanistan, crossing the airspace of six different nations, before dropping more than a dozen precision-guided bombs on Taliban targets. The crews of the record-breaking flight received the coveted Clarence MacKay Trophy for 2007, an award given annually for “the most meritorious flight” of the year.
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